Champion Comics and Coffee aims to create a “nerd heaven” in Williston

WILLISTON ― After working 18 years as a public defender, 48-year-old South Burlington resident Rory Malone decided it was time for a mid-life career change. Malone wanted to do something completely different, something that would make him happier. So he pursued his lifelong passion for comic books.

In December 2022, Malone opened Champion Comics and Coffee — a one-stop-shop for all things nerdy at Taft Corners in Williston.

A shelf in the manga section at Champion Comics and Coffee in Williston, photographed April 20, 2023.

Champion’s offerings include comics, manga, graphic novels, and books, as well as action figures, trading cards, games, and more. While customers browse the packed shelves of the sunny store, they can order coffee and baked goods from Champion’s café.

“We have people that are coming here all the time that read all sorts of things, and we just sort of let them browse the stock, let them sit down, and read,” Malone said. “We just have a place that we’ve styled as a sort of a non-judgmental nerd heaven for people to do whatever they want here.”

Two of the shelves at Champion Comics and Coffee in Williston, photographed April 20, 2023.

A nerd wonderland in Williston

Now that the store is several months old, Malone is aiming for Champion to become a major hub for Williston’s nerd community. The store hosted a Free Comic Books Day event on May 6, and is planning to host reoccurring events for roleplaying and tabletop games, including Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and Yu-Gi-Oh.

“It appears that Williston has been looking for a place to game, so we want to be able to make sure that we can address that,” Malone said.

A latte served up at Champion Comics and Coffee in Williston on April 20, 2023.

Another reason for Malone choosing Williston as the site for Champion is the city’s new zoning regulations for its Taft Corners shopping center, where Champion is located. The regulations are aimed to make the area a more pedestrian-friendly and residential downtown center.

“Williston is an area that a lot of people frequent when they come shopping,” Malone said. “Because of the location of some of the big-box stores, it draws in people from all over central and northern Vermont in a way that other areas maybe don’t.”

A customer digs through the manga section at Champion Comics and Coffee in Williston on April 20, 2023.

From the courthouse to the comic shop

Walking away from a career as a lawyer to open up a comic book shop was definitely a gamble, Malone said. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Malone moved to Vermont to attend Vermont Law School, which he graduated from in 2003, and he’s been working as a lawyer ever since until now.

“It was and still remains at times a terrifying career change,” Malone said. “I walked away from a good career with a steady paycheck to do this.”

Rory Malone opened up Champion Comics and Coffee in Williston on Dec. 16, 2022.

While honest about his fears around his decision, Malone is also quick to talk about the joys of his new career.

As a lawyer, Malone often worked with unhappy people who were going through difficult circumstances. Now, Malone gets to talk every day with people who are in a good mood and excited to walk through the door.

One of Malone’s favorite aspects of the job is serving as a kind of ‘comics bartender,’ making recommendations to customers based on their interests. He’s even made some friends at the store through these connections.

“It’s been a lot of fun talking to people, learning from my customers about what they like, what they want to buy, what they’re looking for,” Malone said. “That’s been the most fun to me, hands down.”

If you go to Champion Comics and Coffee:

  • Location: 31 Cottonwood Drive, Suite 106, in Williston.
  • Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed on Mondays.

Contact April Fisher at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @AMFisherMedia

Sign up to receive the best Underground art & real estate news in your inbox everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This post was originally published on this site